It happened to be a Sunday morning when I first noticed her. She was standing in the back yard, not far from the house. She wasn’t between places. She was here with a purpose.
I thought it was strange. Ducks don’t usually visit us. We’re more of an oriole, mourning dove, cardinal, black-capped chickadee and bluejay stopover. That day was different. Mama duck was obviously casing the joint.
After getting ready for church I looked out again, sure she would be gone. Not so. Mama duck was standing just a little farther away from the house.
When we returned she was gone. Maybe she was looking for a place to call home. I hoped she would choose us, but she obviously thought better of it.
Several days later, I was walking around the yard, picking up sticks in preparation for mowing. On the west side of our house, I found what mama duck was up to. Snuggled safely behind a prickly rose bush was her nest with eleven beautiful eggs.
I left the grass uncut. I didn’t want to do anything to disturb our guest. Mama duck wasn’t with her eggs and that concerned me. I wondered if maybe after laying them she changed her mind. Maybe a cat scared her, there are a few in the neighborhood.
The next morning, I was excited to discover she hadn’t decided against us at all. Mama duck was home. She was comfortably nestled on her anticipated brood.
Being the nervous papa that I am, I couldn’t imagine how mama duck and eleven babies could possibly survive. I was afraid she would be discovered and we would find a tragic scene some morning when we took a peak to check on her.
Mama duck was tougher and smarter than the credit I gave her. Maybe that scrawny rose bush provided just the right amount of protection. Her camouflage outfit was working.
Several weeks passed. We checked on mama duck every day. I did my best duck impressions and talked to her. I don’t know if it helped or not but she never jumped up to fight or fly.
Nothing was happening and I became concerned that maybe she left the nest uncovered too long. I hadn’t marked the calendar when I first found her, so I wasn’t really sure how many days she was with us.
Summer temperatures finally started to settle in. Mama duck was still faithful to her little ones.
Memorial Day weekend arrived and we made plans to go up north. I checked on mama duck before we left.
We returned home on Monday afternoon. As soon as I parked the car in the garage I went around the side of the house. I was shocked and saddened to find the nest empty. My mind took off on its own. I was quite sure a group of cats had ganged up and attacked her. Maybe someone had taken them. Was mama duck in someone’s crockpot?
I was confused about something. There was nothing in the nest or near it. No feathers, no egg pieces, no disturbing leftovers from a vicious battle. Nothing.
A few weeks later, our next door neighbors came over.
She said, “My father was here Memorial Day weekend and while he was in the yard he noticed the mama duck and her ducklings headed for the creek!”
We were so excited!! And disappointed!! We wanted to see mama duck and her babies! But we were so happy she and her family were okay.
What a precious sight! This is so amazing! With all kinds of would-be predators around, mama duck and her ducklings lived. She waited for a beautiful warm Sunday morning, and away they went.
We’ll put out a vacancy sign on the west side of the house next spring. Maybe mama duck will be back. I hope so.